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Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Ark restaurant has been part of my life since I arrived in Fort Lauderdale 33 years ago when it opened. I have taken many friends there over the years. On February 29, 2000, I celebrated my "Sweet 16" Leap Year birthday with a party there for good friends. In the top picture on the left is a money balloon which was one of my presents!

When it first opened it was a restaurant known for its theme and all prices ending in 2. They had 3 delicious cuts of Prime ribs: Lion, Lioness and Cub. The lion was a 32 ounce piece of meat that melted in your mouth that was attached to a bone you wanted to gnaw on for days! One time I went there and it came without a bone and, upon asking the waiter, was told that there were using the bones as an 'early bird special' of bbq ribs. You didn't want to hear me talking to the owners that night! Back in those days they had an elaborate salad bar with a full wheel of cheddar cheese in addition to the many flavored butters. They eventually added the buffet. When I read the following article I thought of all the good times I had there and all the good people I shared meals with--I will miss The Ark!
The Ark in Davie to close Saturday after 34 years

By John Tanasychuk

Staff writer

4:30 PM EDT, October 11, 2012

After nearly 34 years, The Ark restaurant in Davie will serve its last buffet customer Saturday night.

“The economy went south on us,” says Jimmy Kleinrichert, who owns The Ark with his brother Jerry. “We do a great buffet, but we haven’t had enough business for more than a year now.”

Known for its prime rib and cold seafood buffet, Kleinrichert says competition from the chains got the best of them. “Customers can go to Chili’s and places like that and have two dinners for $20,” he says. “I don’t blame them. I can’t compete. I’ve got to do volume to make money.”

Five years ago, the 300-seat restaurant often served 500 people on weekend nights. Now, it’s closer to 200 people.

“God’s been good to me for 33 years,” says Kleinrichert. “I’m 73 and my brother is 75. We’re tired.”

The Ark employs more than 60 people, many of whom have worked for the Kleinricherts since their 1978 opening. Some are ready to retire, while the brothers are helping others find work.

“It’s just like losing your family," says Kleinrichert. "I lost my son to cancer 30 years ago and that was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. This is the second hardest thing that’s happened to me.”

The Kleinricherts own the building that houses The Ark and have put it up for sale. They hope a much younger buyer brings in another restaurant.

“I should have retired five years ago,” he says “when the economy was going crazy.”

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